Roots, Toots n' Hoots Blog
The Strait truth of keeping up with Jones
Jeffrey Remz | May 27, 2016
On "All the Way to Me" off Dierks Bentley's "Black" CD out today, he starts off the song with the lines "Somethin' 'bout George Jones on the headphones/Truth through a microphone/Livin' on, and on, and on, in a melody/Somethin' 'bout starlight on Kansas/The way a wheat field dances/Fence posts as far as the eye can see."
But that's about as much as the song has to do with Jones. There's no obvious musical reference to Jones (or even a non-obvious one). The song may start off on the softer side with acoustic guitar before Bentley picks up the pace. In a way, it's typical fare for Bentley, something rare on this disc, which is filled with lots of programming courtesy of producer Ross Copperman.
Cole Swindell name checks George Strait in "Party Wasn't Over" from his "You Should Be Here" release with the lines "These days, I can't even hear a wave crash/And I get carried away and go George Strait back/to a slow dance out in the sand/When the keg was still cold and she was holding my hand."
Trust me, this song has nothing to do with King George either, certainly not music wise as there are lots of big beats and doctored vocals on the song penned by Swindell, Canaan Smith and Florida Georgia Line boys Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley.
The idea of trying to gain street cred because you can weave a country singer (and I'm talking more on the traditional side, of course, although, heck, Taylor Swift named a whole song after a country star) into the lyrics is disingenuous at best.
Neither Bentley nor Swindell could be accused on their latest of having connections with Jones or Strait. (In reality, Swindell apparently has an affinity for Strait, but it just doesn't show up in his good time lyrics). There are lots of big beats on both albums with Bentley in particular altering course and going for drum beats and sounds out of field - to the point that it actually is distracting and mars the songs.
Bentley has enjoyed a worthy career from his first disc with songs like his hit singles "What Was I Thinkin'" and "How Am I Doin'," not to mention "Train Travelin'" with the Del McCoury Band and his cover of Buddy and Julie Miller's "My Love Will Follow You." That's just not the case with "Black."
I've never been a fan of jumping on the backs of those who paved the way when you have little in common. Bentley and Swindell are both guilty of that on their latest albums. For better or worse, they could stand on their own merits instead of taking advantage of Jones and Strait. That's the truth - as I see it anyway.